I had not planned to write anything on the story until the name Wahhaj triggered my memory, leading me to do some further research and led to me adding this note on the connections between the Wahhaj family and some better known Americans. The incident also provides a further illustration of what the “non-partisan” media wants you to know and, more importantly, not to know.
As noted in some of the coverage, the father of the group’s ringleader Siraj Wahhaj, is a New York area iman, also named Siraj Wahhaj. The elder Wahhaj is a follower of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman ("The Blind Sheik") who is now serving a life sentence for his role in the bombing of the World Trade Center in the 1990s. Wahhaj served as a character witness for Rahman during the trial and was identified by the prosecution as a possible co-conspirator in the bombing. Wahhaj is an advocate for the imposition of Sharia Law and has frequently called for the death of homosexuals.
The Iman Wahhaj has some interesting admirers. One is Linda Sarsour, the Muslim darling of progressives, particularly progressive women, despite her anti-Semitic views and outspoken hatred of anyone who disagrees with her. In a speech given last year to the Islamic Societies of North America (ISNA), Sarsour referred to Imam Wahhaj as “a mentor, motivator, and encourager” of hers.
But what prompted my post was another surprising connection, one I stumbled upon in 2016. It was so startling I initially dismissed it until my further research found the GoFundMe page for the event discussed in the article. It concerns Ibtihaj Muhammed, the female American Olympian who competed wearing a hijab and received glowing media coverage as an example of America’s inclusiveness and as a rebuke to the “haters.” Here’s just one of countless examples of her favorable coverage.
It turns out the keynote speaker at her 2016 Olympic fundraiser in Newark, NJ was none other than the Imam Wahhaj! At the time I noted it as just another example of how the media provides preferential treatment to those who meet its narrative needs. But when the New Mexico arrests were reported the name Wahhaj rang a bell with, reminding me of the connection with Ibtihaj and I did some further research which revealed this 2016 article at Harry’s Place. There are several websites covering Islam and anti-semitism, some of which have a well-deserved reputation for overstatement and distortion of facts and events, tending to unfairly lump all Muslims together, and which I consider unreliable sources of information. In contrast, I have found Harry's Place to be reliable. Harry’s is a UK-based blog run by left-wingers who are appalled by the progress and acceptance of Islamists and anti-semites in British culture and politics and have devoted themselves to exposing the perpetrators and, along the way, have also pointed out unfair characterizations of Muslims. The article makes clear that Ibtihaj has a long history of connections with radical Islamists. Some excerpts from the article, which is worth reading in its entirety.
Muhammad has also received special mentions and recognition as an Olympian in a Hijab from the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And, according to the New York Times, she was even invited to sit on a ‘roundtable discussion’ with the President to discuss ‘varying concerns within the Muslim community like Islamophobia’. That wouldn’t be the first time she got the ear of high places either; in 2012 she posted an update saying she was seated on the same table as the president at a White House Event.
Unfortunately though, the portrayal of Muhammad as an icon of liberal progress and tolerance is simply false. As on the contrary, her social media activity makes it clear she is very politically minded and appears to have praised or befriended several of the most dubious figures on the Islamist scene in the US.
For at least the past 5 years, Muhammad has frequently attended and spoken at numerous events and conventions from an array of organisations widely acknowledged to be Islamist, and regularly expressed praise, admiration and friendship for a number of highly controversial Islamists.
Another who Muhammad has spoken warmly of is the even more gruesomely hardline Islamist Siraj Wahhaj, who has a long track record of espousing truly despicable and vile views. Wahhaj, who converted to Islam under the mentorship of the radical Louis Farrakhan, has advocated Sharia Law and all of its brutal punishments, advocated violent Jihad, spoken about his distaste for both the USA and democracy which he hopes ‘crumbles’, and offered praise and support to all manner of extremists including Al Qaeda fighters.
The accounts Muhammad follows on Twitter include Qadhi, Suleiman, Jangda or Mogahed and various others of similar ilk plus their organisations such as CAIR, ICNA or the Al Maghrib Institute. She has frequently praised them all personally, and for several years attended and spoken at numerous of their events, and just a couple months ago invited someone as hardline as Siraj Wahhaj to speak at her very own fundraiser.
There is absolutely no way that is the behaviour of a truly secular liberal Muslim. Even if she may not share every specific one of their views, it’s extremely hard to believe Muhammad has spent that long in and around the same circles as these Islamists that she could be merely entirely ignorant of their theocratic world view (someone like Suleiman has openly expressed desire for Sharia at some of those ICNA conventions).The Harry's post concludes with a very telling point:
But most sadly of all, this is just another example of the moral illusion the Western Left repeatedly keeps falling for.
Rather than celebrate well integrated Muslims who’ve adopted modern liberal values, they choose to celebrate the religiously conservative, and then think they are being progressive in doing so.By repeatedly failing to be honest about radical Islam, the media denigrates the views and work of Muslims who are open to participating in a tolerant and secular society, and provides ammunition to those who are prejudiced against all Muslims.
And, by the way, Ibtihaj Muhammed is now on tour promoting her new biography, Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream. We'll see if she gets any tough questions.